advertised in the current issue of the Irish Tourist Board's colourful publication Ireland of the Welcomes.
It is an advertisement for old Irish school desks. They come, we are told, "from the great study hall from the Jesuit boarding school of Clongowes Wood".
Furthermore, it is stated that "James Joyce studied on one of these desks", and we all know what happened to him. And the price? $650. The selling of old Jesuitical desks suggests that some enterprising firm might consider selling, for example, old "FeruIas", the whale-bone encased in black stitched leather, and flat at both ends, the instrument of punishment once much favoured by the followers of the former Spanish soldier, Ignatius.
Sometimes known as the "tolly", the recipient was ordered punishment in strokes of three, six, nine or "twice nine", as James Joyce knew to his cost.
The command "get six!" or whatever was all too frequently barked at you by a pink-faced scholastic fresh from years of study of theology or philosophy in a remote country mansion.
Sometimes the command was given suavely, almost silently, by a smooth tongued silver-haired Jay, who should have known better.
The only saving grace about the ghastly ritual was that the Jesuit who ordered the Ferula did not administer it in the heat and fury of the moment. This was carried out later, and clinically, by a neutral disciple of St Ignatius, who duly wrote the punishment down in the "tolly" book before administering it.
The recipient was in no shape to write anything down, and could not hold a knife and fork at lunchtime, because of the excruciating pain in the swollen hands which stung like a swarm of bees for many hours.